On August 21, the new moon will pass directly between the Earth and the sun in the first total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States in almost four decades.
But for those who won’t be able to view the eclipse this summer, NASA has a solution: The organization, along with online video platform Stream, will livestream coverage of the total solar eclipse from 57 high-altitude balloons across the country.
The balloons will be set up at dozens of points throughout the eclipse’s “path of totality” (where the moon casts its umbral shadow) as it crosses the Pacific Northwest, Midwest and Southeast regions of the U.S.
Balloons will float about 100,000 feet in the air — well above any cloud coverage that could obscure viewing on the ground.
This will be the very first time that a total solar eclipse has been livestreamed using a high-altitude platform. NASA will likely use some of its other cameras already out in space to complete coverage with a variety of viewpoints, according to Mashable.
Although total solar eclipses are not altogether rare (they happen about once every 18 months), they are not always visible. However this year’s eclipse will be the first in 99 years that can be viewed from both American coasts. The next total solar eclipse on U.S. soil will be April 2024.
Although the total solar eclipse will be visible outside its path of totality, Jay Pasachoff, an astronomer at Williams College, told Space.com that eclipse enthusiasts should consider making the drive.
“If you are off to the side — even where the sun is 99 percent covered by the moon — it is like going up to the ticket booth of a baseball or football stadium but not going inside,” he said.